Amateur Baseball Report, 1995 July 31

As we reported last week, the Ulster County American Legion Baseball Championship was suspended in the fifth inning of game two Sunday Night. Post 72 of Saugerties led the game 1-0 while Kingston's Post 150 held a one game to none advantage in the best-of-three series. Action resumed Monday night at Gruner Field in Lake Katrine, but they could only manage one inning of play amid rain delays, in which the teams traded runs. With the Sawyers leading 2-1, the contest was picked up in the bottom of the sixth at Cantine Field in Saugerties. Post 72 failed to pick up an insurance run in the top of the seventh, leaving two more runners on base, and the Colonials tied it in the bottom of the inning on the RBI single of former Sawyer Mike Skerritt, who continued to hound his former team. On they went to extra innings: Saugerties went up 3-2 in the eighth, only to have Kingston tie the score at three in the bottom of the stanza. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Colonial Anthony Green sent Ryan Covert's pitch over the leftfield wall for a three-run homer to give Post 150 a 6-3 extra-inning win and a sweep of the county series. Kingston advances to the regionals, while Saugerties must savor the bitter taste of yet another heartbreaking loss to their arch-rivals.

The next order of business in Saugerties baseball was the third annual Roy Helsmoortel Memorial Tournament, held in honor of the late Saugerties Dutchmen sponsor. Participating in the two-day, round-robin event at Cantine were the host Dutchmen, defending champions Otsego Macs of Cooperstown, and the Middletown Explorers of the Hudson Valley Rookie League. The Dutchmen took the opener 7-2 over Otsego, with whom they had split four contests earlier in the year. Tony Pilatich gave up a single walk in the complete seven-inning victory, ending his team-record streak at 35 innings without a free pass. Saugerties shortstop Kiko Romagura was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs, and Paul Robinson went 2-for-4 with a double and and three stolen bases in the win. Game two pitted the Macs against the Explorers, who were not only the underdogs of the tournament, but also operating without their regular manager. Interim skipper Tom Giordano drove in the only Middletown run of the game in the first, but had trouble maintaining discipline as his noisy charges fell 4-1 thanks in part to Otsego catcher Steve Gossin's two doubles and a RiBI. In the day's final contest, Saugerties hurler Ray "black jack" Mikesh shut down the Explorers, facing the minimum 18 batters in the first six innings. He lost the shutout in the seventh when Leon Valentin's leadoff walk was followed by back-to-back singles by Mike Mancuso and Paul Braun. Mikesh retired the next two batters, but gave up a single to Tim McDevitt to load the bases. He then gave way to Bill Earl, who needed only one pitch to retire Kevin Kreppin cement the Dutchmen's 5-1 victory. So at the end of the first day's play, Saugerties led the field with a 2-0 record, followed by the Macs at 1-1 and Middletown at 0-2.

The Explorers, who seemed to be fulfilling their role as patsies after the first day, turned things around on Sunday and pounded Dutchmen newcomer and Canadian recruit Steve Sykes for six runs in the opener, the fourth game of the weekend. Their discpline problems did continue off the field, though, as they were warned as early as the first inning for razzing Sykes. Saugerties manager Dennis Sheehan got embroiled in a shouting match with the Middletown bench, and Home Plate umpire John Onyon struggled to maintain control. In the end, calmer heads prevailed, as did the Explorers, by a 6-2 margin. The plot thickened in game five, as the Explorers moved from spoilers to contenders by pulling out a 17-10 slugfest over Otsego. The situation was set for the final game: if the Dutchmen won, they'd win the tournament with a 3-1 record, but if the Macs prevailed, all three teams would be 2-2 and the tourney would be resolved on the basis of run differential. Saugerties led going in with a +5, but Middletown held a +4 on the strength of their seven-run win in game five, so that they would be co-champions if the Dutchmen lost by one, and win outright if the margin of victory was any larger. The unfortunate Macs stood at -9, and the tournament was out of their reach because of a ten-run cap on margin of victory.

On the mound, 40-year-old Paul Bianco got off to a bad start by giving up three runs to the Macs in the bottom of the first, but then settled down and gave up only one more hit until the seventh. The Dutchmen used the opportunity to battle back accumulate a 10-4 lead, keyed by a six-run fifth. To cap the inning, Sheehan, managing his final game for the Dutchmen, showed more of his innovative coaching style by scoring two runs on a suicide squeeze. Bianco's arm finally gave out in the bottom of the final inning, as he surrendered a one-out, two-run homer to Dan Pepicelli, followed by a double to Tim Mandronico. With the Dutchmen clinging to a four-run lead, it was time for Ray Mikesh, who'd already pitched two innings in relief of Sykes in game four, to come in and get the last two outs. Blackjack gave up two singles and a sacrifice fly, but got Otsego's Brian Hood to fly out to Robinson in center to end the game, with Saugerties prevailing 10-7 to claim their second Roy Helsmoortel Memorial plaque, concluding their 1995 season.

Back on the home front, the Santa Barbara Foresters and San Luis Blues had their final showdown for the right to go to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita. Santa Barbara entered the final three-game series at 19-2 in the Central Coast Premier League, with San Luis Obispo standing at 14-5, needing to sweep the Foresters at home, then take a doubleheader from the Santa Maria Stars to win the title.

Last Modified: 1995 September 26
Joe Schlobotnik /